December 6, 2007

Violence Not The Only Thing Decreasing On Iraq

After the massive coverage that our setbacks in Iraq received from the mainstream media, one would expect that success would at least receive equal treatment. (No, actually, I didn't, but bear with the rhetorical argument.) Anyone with those expectations would have to face crushing disappointment, according to the Media Research Center. The MRC discovered an intriguing and completely predictable direct proportion between deaths and media coverage in Iraq:

Now, all three networks have become more optimistic in their on-ground reporting from the war zone, admitting that the surge in troops and new counterinsurgency tactics have reduced the violence. But as the news from the war front improves, a Media Research Center study finds ABC, CBS and NBC are less likely to tell viewers about it. ....

Back in September, as reporters voiced skepticism of General Petraeus’ progress report, the networks aired a total of 178 Iraq stories, or just under two per network per night. (See chart.) About one-fourth of those stories (42) were filed from Iraq itself, with most of the rest originating in Washington.

In October, TV’s war news fell by about 40 percent, to 108 stories, with the number of reports filed from Iraq itself falling to just 20, or less than one-fifth of all Iraq stories. By November, the networks aired a mere 68 stories, with only eleven (16%) actually from the war zone itself.

Rich Noyes notes that CBS has proven the most dramatic in its reduction. In November, the Tiffany Network only offered three reports on the progress in Iraq. Its reported in Baghdad, Lara Logan, has only filed one report herself, on November 21. Five weeks before that, she appeared on NBC's Tonight Show, claiming that the war was going "extremely badly", and that reality was "much worse" than the media had reported.

Some of this, of course, follows as the natural result of less explosions, attacks, and death. "If it bleeds, it leads," the news motto instructs, and a lack of bleeding is harder to definitively present, especially to television audiences. Also, September might not have been the best choice for a baseline month, with General Petraeus' testimony creating more impetus for any coverage of violence and casualties.

However, with the Iraq war such a pressing political issue, one would think that all of the accumulated news and writing talent at the networks would figure out a method to report on the improvements on a more regular basis. One report every ten days for CBS hardly even qualifies as an effort. The question of war funding has remained a constant issue, which should have prompted more coverage of the declining numbers in attacks and casualties across the board in Iraq.

Most of us could have predicted this. Something similar happened with Afghanistan, where long periods pass without any coverage at all from major outlets. The media has proven itself dependable when it comes to predictions on coverage once again.


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With recent reports showing that the surge is, in fact, working in Iraq, you would think that the news reports from Iraq would stay the same or actually increase in number. However, we can see that this is not the case. The top three news agencies, ABC... [Read More]